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Milan-San Remo 2017

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It's Milan-San Remo day! The riders are in the process of signing on. There's some sun out there and the racing will be underway in just over 30 minutes. 

Peter Sagan is up to sign on. He is the favourite for many but can he finally strike gold in San Remo today?

This is the team that is behind Peter Sagan today. 

Probably the most formidable team on the start line, as ever, is Quick-Step Floors. They've got a number of big hitters in their line-up that could win today, including Fernando Gaviria

Today will be Tom Boonen's final Milan-San Remo as he is set to retire in a few short weeks. He says that it's not always the strongest that wins but the ones who make the right tactical choices. He remains confident that the team can find a way to beat Peter Sagan and their other rivals. Read what the Belgian had to say here

Mark Cavendish won Milan-San Remo back in 2009. He's on the start line today. Can he take his second win eight years after his first? Here he is with fellow contender Peter Sagan.

T minus 10 minutes for the start of Milan-San Remo. The riders are almost ready to roll out. 

There are a number of riders who could take out victory today. It's such a long race and almost anything can happen but we've tried to lay out some predictions. Let's see how wise they are in a few hour's time

And we're off! The riders are rolling through the neutral section. We should have racing very soon. 

Some good new for the riders on this longest of days. There is expected to be a bit of a tailwind when the riders hit the coast. 

The start proper has been given. Just 291km left for the riders. 

Just a few kilometres in, 10 riders have already made a bid for freedom. The riders are: Frapporti, Maestri, Clarke, Skujins, Rovni, Marangoni, Poli, Zurlo, Amezqueta and Denz. 

It looks like this is the break of the day, as the bunch looks to save their legs for later. The 10 riders have almost two minutes on the peloton.

It is unsurprising that the Italian teams are heavily represented in this attack, particularly Androni Giocattoli and Nippo-Vini Fantini. These two teams were very active at Tirreno-Adriatico and look set to continue that. They've been trying to make a point since missing out on a Giro d'Italia wild card. 

Some clarification on the riders in the break. It is Mattia Frapporti and William Clarke. The bane of having two riders with the same last name in the same team. Again, this is the full make-up of the break with full names and teams: Nico Denz (Ag2r La Mondiale), Mattia Frapporti (Androni-Sidermec), Mirco Maestri (Bardiani-CSF), William Clarke, Tom Skujins (Cannondale-Drapac), Ivan Rovny (Gazprom-Rusvelo), Alan Marangoni (Nippo-Fantini), Umberto Poli (Novo Nordisk), Federico Zurlo (UAE Team Emirates), Julen Amezqueta (Wilier-Selle Italia).

Jack Bauer will be a key player for Quick-Step Floors today. He's a strong rider and will be able to help control the action in the earlier part of the race. He believes the team has four potential cards to play today. 

The gap between the breakaway and the peloton is growing quickly after 24 kilometres. They've got approaching five minutes now on the bunch. 

Ben Swift, like many, has the key parts of the course noted on his bike

Having begun in 1907, Milan-San Remo is one of the oldest races on the calendar. In the build-up to this the first monument of the season, we compiled a collection of iconic images from this iconic race

FDJ, team of the defending champion Arnaud Demare, is controlling the bunch at the moment. William Bonnet is the man at the pointy end of the action for now.  

261km remaining from 291km

The team backing up Arnaud Demare today as he looks to defend his title. It's not as strong as some of the others, but Demare proved that wasn't necessarily an issue last year. 

The riders have been racing for an hour with an average speed of 41.5kph. Quick-Step has moved up to help out FDJ on the front, sending up Julian Vermote to do a bit of work. 

Have you listened to our Milan-San Remo preview podcast with former winner John Degenkolb. No? We'll forgive you I suppose, but only if you take a chance to listen to it now. You can find and listen to it right here

Julian Alaphilippe is making his MSR debut today. The Frenchman has had a great start to the season and put in an impressive performance at Paris-Nice earlier in the month. He has said that he's here to learn but he's also a potential contender for Quick-Step Floors. Here is what Alaphilippe said about his debut. 

News from our reporter on the ground Stephen Farrand is that after the lovely little tailwind on the coast, the riders can expect the wind to change direction and they will have to battle through a headwind. 

The gap continues to remain around the four-minute mark for the 10 escapees. Even though there is still well over 200km to go, the peloton is not happy to give them too much room to manoeuvre.

The breakaway is working fairly well together for now. After 50k, they have nudged the advantage out to 4:42,

Fernando Gaviria knows more than most that one wrong move can put an end to your hopes at Milan-San Remo. Gaviria crashed in the final run to the line last year just when it looked like he might take victory on his debut. Read his thoughts ahead of today's action

Michael Matthews had a difficult Milan-San Remo last year, crashing at an inopportune moment - a crash that also caught up eventual winner Arnaud Demare. He's hoping for much better fortune this year and says he's focusing solely on his own race and not that of his rivals. Read his thoughts here and why not take a look at the bike he's using today

216km remaining from 291km

The wind is blowing a little stronger out there and the flags are up. This could make things a little more challenging for the escapees. 

The pace has slowed a touch over the second hour of racing. The average speed was 39kph in the second hour, down from 41.5kph over the opening hour of action. 

There are six former winners in the race today. We have the last three: Arnaud Demare, John Degenkolb and Alexander Kristoff. Mark Cavendish, Filippo Pozzato and Simon Gerrans are also in the bunch. None of them have ever won it a second time. 

Oscar Freire was the last multiple winner of Milan-San Remo. He won his third title 2010 when he bested Tom Boonen on the finish line. Erik Zabel was the last rider to defend his title when he won two in a row in 2000 and 2001. He'd done it once before in 1997 and 1998.

Filippo Pozzato remains hopeful that he might win another Milan-San Remo title but even he admits that he is not among the favourites. He has placed his bets on John Degenkolb, Peter Sagan and Fernando Gaviria

A quick reminder of those 10 guys that are out in the breakaway today. 

Ben Swift has twice finished on the podium at Milan-San Remo, and was runner-up to Arnaud Demare last year. He moved from Team Sky to the UAE Team Emirates over the winter and says that the team brought him on primarily for this race

He is not racing here today but it happens to be the birthday of former winner Fabian Cancellara. He happens to turn 36 today. 

After more than 100 kilometres of racing, the breakaway has just four minutes as Bora-Hansgrohe, FDJ and Quick-Step Floors continue to manage the front of the bunch. The wind is certainly not helping their efforts. 

Alan Marangoni is one of the most experienced riders in the breakaway today. Marangoni is on a run of good form after a decent showing at Tirreno-Adriatico. He was in the break for several of the stages and was just pipped to the mountains classification by Davide Ballerini

Toms Skujiņš and Mirco Maestri are two of the least experienced in the breakaway. Both riders turned professional last season. Maestri was another that put himself at the forefront at Tirreno-Adriatico and almost beat Peter Sagan in the points classification. Skujiņš has had a slightly quieter start of the year and is returning to racing after a short two-week break. 

The third hour of racing has come to a close. My, how time flies. The average pace continues to drop, with the riders hampered by the wind. The leaders completed the third hour with an average speed of 37.8kph, 

 Susan jumping in to take over live report for a short spell.

Fernando Gaviria (QuickStep) is dealing with the pressure of being a favourite here today and of having a wrist injury which could hamper his ambitions. This is what he said this morning before the start:

Fabio Felline (Trek-Segafredo), had this to say this morning:

We have reached the first climb of the day, the Passo del Turchino, a climb nearly 26 km long.

Elia Viviani (Team Sky) has been preparing for this race all year. 

FDJ has been using William Bonnet since the beginning of the day. Three hours in Bonnet is still doing the honours for the team. 

Before the action here really hots up, why not re-live last year's race with our short video highlights

Milan-San Remo is one of the few one-day races that Philippe Gilbert is yet to win. During Paris-Nice Gilbert told Cyclingnews that a win here would be more emotional than another Liege Bastonge Liege. These are Gilbert's toughts on what could happen today. 

Umberto Poli is doing a decent effort in the breakaway considering that the team says they only notified him of his start three days ago. When the call comes to ride San Remo you just can't say no. 

The latest time check has the breakaway at 4:40. The gap between the peloton and the leaders has swung between 4 and 5 minutes throughout most of the day. 

A crash from Salvatore Puccio. He is the first to go down today but probably not the last. We hope that he is ok. 

The breakaway is passing through Turchino at the moment. There's a few grey clouds but it's still dry out there for now. 

Sonny Colbrelli finally took his first win of the season at Paris-Nice and he will be the main hope for Bahrain-Merida today. Like most, he sees Sagan and Gaviria as the biggest dangers but also defending champion Demare. 

As the riders pick up and eat their lunch, the gap has plummeted to 2:15 for the 10 leaders. It's likely to go back up again soon enough though. 

As the riders pick up and eat their lunch, the gap has plummeted to 2:15 for the 10 leaders. It's likely to go back up again soon enough though. 

Ahead of the race, Mark Cavendish admitted that he wasn't in the best of form. He's been hampered by illness in recent weeks but says that his knowledge of the course could pay dividends. Read his full comments here

Trek-Segafredo keeping John Degenkolb safe and out of the wind. 

After leading for most of the first off of today, William Bonnet pulls off the front and Mikael Delage takes up the pace setting for FDJ. 

After dropping down, the peloton has allowed the breakaway a little more room. They've now got  3:02 as the most important part of the race approaches. 

112km remaining from 291km

One of the Katusha riders having a problem with his rear mech. He risks his fingers by trying to sort it out on the move. Thankfully, he's got all his digits intact. 

Defending champion Arnaud Demare says he's in good form today, better than he had anticipated. 

104km remaining from 291km

A lingering shot of Toms Skujins and his disc brakes. He is one of two Cannondale riders on discs today while the rest have opted for calipers. 

Mark Cavendish moving through the cars at the moment with the help of some teammates It looks like he may have suffered from a mechanical. 

A quick conversation between Julian Vermote and Davide Cimolai at the front of the bunch. FDJ may be concerned with the speed that Quick-Step has been setting recently. Under the pressure of the Belgian squad, the bunch has been strung out along the coast and the gap has plummeted to 2:16.

John Degenkolb is riding Milan-San Remo for the first time since his victory in 2015. Degenkolb missed last years race after a horrible training accident in Calpe last January where he almost lost a finger. This is what Degenkolb had to say ahead of the race. 

There is a pretty stiff breeze hitting the riders at the moment as they continue to make their way along the coast. It's a cross headwind for them and its helping to string the bunch out. 

The yo-yo is on the way out again. 2:39 for the breakaway. It seems that the word Cimolai had with Vermote has worked. It's now Jay Thomson for Dimension Data working on the front.

Vermote takes over again as Peter Sagan is now making his way back to the peloton after a pop back to the car. There's a lot of cars and not too much space on the road so he's having to work hard. 

We've compiled an extensive gallery of some of the action so far and the from the start line. Peruse through it at your own leisure right here

This is one of those pictures from our gallery. Tom Boonen signing on for the last Milan-San Remo of his career. 

Thus far, there has been just one climb but with 76km to go the leaders are fast approaching the lumpy finale with the three Capos. The first of them, the Capo Mele comes up with just under 60km to go. 

After the Capo Mele, the Capo Cervo and then the Capo Berta. It's here that the first small selection will be made. Provided they don't make any big mistakes, all the big names should make it through there to battle on the Cipressa and the Poggio. 

The Cipressa has been a part of Milan-San Remo since 1982. There was a big crash near the foot of the 5.6km climb last year, which took out Michael Matthews and Arnaud Demare. Matthews made it back on but was not in the condition to compete in the sprint. Demare was a different story, as he went on to win the race. Following the race a furore erupted about whether or not Demare had held onto a race vehicle. Whatever the truth was, Demare was able to keep his victory, no doubt the biggest of his career. 

The Poggio made its debut at the 1961 Milan-San Remo. While it is not the toughest of climbs, at 3.6km and an average of 3.7 per cent, it has become one of the most iconic. Poor positioning on this climb can ruin your race too as the bunch often splits under the pressure of attacks. 

2:10 for the breakaway with 63km to go. Coming up, the Capi.

Before the proverbial hits the fan, lets take a look at some of today's contenders. Peter Sagan and Fernando Gaviria sit at the top of the list for many people. Former winners John Degenkolb, Arnaud Demare, Alexander Kristoff and Mark Cavendish are not too far behind them. 

56km remaining from 291km

The peloton is preparing itself for the first climb. Trek-Segafedo, BMC, AG2R La Mondiale, Quick-Step, FDJ and Bora-Hansgrohe are all trying to get their leaders up to the front. 

The peloton has been taking it pretty easy up until now but the riders are much more alert on the climbs. This is where things can be derailed very quickly and all that work can go to naught. With just over 50km to the finish, the break has only 1:30 on the peloton. 

The breakaway holding on over the Capi.